Easy Weeknight Dinners
Check out this great article from Food is Fuel NYC Dietetic Intern Jessica from the University of Florida. For more great content and food inspiration check out Jessica on Instagram @walkandguac _________________________________________________________________________________ Even though most of us are working from home now, this does not mean that we have extra time to be making intricate dishes for dinner during the workweek. At the end of the day I want an easy dinner without sacrificing my nutrition goals. Here are a few weeknight tips and recipes. These meal ideas are easy to make and will help you stay in a calorie deficit.
TIPS TO SIMPLIFY THE PREP PROCESS
Chop it up: The most dreaded part of cooking for me is how long it takes to wash and prep everything before I can even get started cooking. A trick that I like to do is wash and chop vegetables ahead of time. For example, if I know I will need bell peppers and onions for a recipe I will cut them up the day before. That way when I go to cook the dish, the prep time is minimized. An added bonus is I will have vegetables already cut up to enjoy throughout the week for salads or to dip in hummus for a snack.
Keep your macros in mind: When preparing dinner try to keep the three macronutrients in mind: carbs (load up the veggies!), protein (opt for lean protein sources like fish and poultry), and fat (choose mono and polyunsaturated fats like avocado and olive oil). Keeping these components of a meal in mind will help you reach your individual goals. Fill up about half of your plate with vegetables; they are low in calories, high in nutrients, and high in fiber that will help keep you full throughout the night.
Frozen is your friend: I’m not talking about frozen meals (watch out for those because they are high in sodium and not very filling). What I am talking about is frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables can be a great resource to use on a busy night because all you need to do is pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and your side dish is ready! When fresh vegetables are not an option, frozen ones are a great default because once the vegetables are picked they are flash frozen to preserve all the nutrients. When buying frozen vegetables look at the ingredients to make sure there are no additives other than the vegetable itself.
One Sheet Salmon and Broccoli Recipe:
One sheet=less dishes to clean! This recipe is easy to prepare, only has 5 ingredients, and is full of lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and fiber. Feel free to switch this recipe up and make it your own by swapping broccoli for asparagus or adding in some cut up sweet potatoes!
Makes 4 servings
1-1.5 lbs salmon
1 large head of broccoli, cut up
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
Optional: Garlic powder and paprika
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Add the broccoli to a large sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Leave room in the center of the pan for the salmon.
Add the salmon fillet(s) to the center of the pan. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the salmon and season the entire pan with salt and black pepper. At this step I usually like to add garlic powder and paprika, but that is a personal preference and completely up to you.
Put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the salmon is fully cooked/flakes easily apart with a fork. Baking times may vary based on the thickness of the salmon.
OTHER QUICK IDEAS
Greek Salad- Heat shrimp in a pan with a splash of olive oil on medium heat until cooked thoroughly. Place on a bed of mixed greens. Add feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, and garbanzo beans. Drizzle with a light dressing (I like the Green Goddess Salad Dressing from Trader Joe’s).
Power Bowl- Pick a base, lean protein, and some veggies and you are good to go! Start with cauliflower rice, quinoa, kale, brown rice, etc. Sauté a lean protein, like cut up chicken breasts, in a pan on medium-high heat. Throw in whatever veggies you have in your kitchen; roasted broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, or chopped bell peppers. Add your favorite seasonings or light dressing and enjoy!
Breakfast for Dinner- Scrambled eggs only take a few minutes to make and who says they are only allowed in the morning? While the eggs are cooking in the pan, add in a generous portion of raw spinach with diced tomatoes and onions. Complete the meal with ¼ of an avocado spread onto a slice of whole grain toast (I like the 21 Whole Grains & Seeds Organic Bread from Dave’s Killer Bread).
These ideas will help you prep an easy weeknight dinner while staying on track with your personal health goals.
Student and Dietetic Intern
University of Florida | Class of 2020